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Water Garden Landscaping

Water garden landscaping is a specific type of professional landscape design that involves using any number of water elements to create focal points and to define areas of interest. These water features can be very simple, such as a natural pond, or they can be very complex, as in the case of a high-end infinity pool.

The many different uses of water in garden design have no particular limits save that which is appropriate to the scale of the landscape master plan, and that which truly compliments the architecture of the home. This freedom of design that is inherent to water garden landscaping allows the professional garden designer to create a myriad of amazing forms that unify hardscape and softscape, and that add curb appeal to one’s residence.


Just a few of these elements include, but are not limited to, the following forms:

  • Natural ponds
  • Reflecting ponds
  • Infinity pools
  • Custom water fountains
  • Streams
  • Waterfalls

People often wonder if a swimming pool can be a central element to water garden landscaping. The answer to this question is yes and no, depending on the type of pool in question. There are many swimming pools that are intentionally built to imitate natural ponds or lakes. These can serve as excellent focal points for any number of garden themes.

More traditional pools, however, constitute a type of design in their own right. That is not to say that gardens cannot be planted around pools and patios, but this is a separate science and a much more unique aesthetic than a garden devoted primarily to the synthesis of water and plant life.

Water is the most unique substance in the world. It is inorganic by nature, but absolutely essential to all organic life. Use of water in the correct context and amounts is the ideal bridge between the non-living and the living elements of a landscape. This synthesis of two realms can be further strengthened by planting aquatic vegetation in a garden pond and by adding koi or goldfish to the water.

Vegetation reinforces the linkage between surrounding softscape, and fish add movement, color, and a magnified sense of the vitality of life to the scene.

While the forms of water garden landscaping have few limits, the placement of a water garden is a different matter. There are some places that simply will not work for a location. The very worse place to create such a feature on your landscape is under large shade trees that continually shed leaves. Leaves will very quickly die and rot in the water. This releases toxins that will quickly destroy the ecosystem of the pond—killing plants and fish and exuding a very noxious odor that can foul the outdoor living experience in very short order.

Low spots in the yard are also poor locations for water garden landscaping. Either a higher point in the yard should be selected, or a concealed drainage system should be built to handle the heavy rains that often fall in our part of the world.

The ideal location for water garden landscaping is in a well-drained portion of the yard that receives at least five hours of sunlight each day. Aquatic plants require at least this much light to thrive. While this may seem like too much light and heat for fish to survive, keep in mind that fish are very good at hiding under plants to shade themselves. Also, garden ponds can be dug to enough depth that fish can find a comfort zone near the bottom during the hottest months of the summer.